Monday 19 March 2018

Erik Lindegren: 'mannen utan väg' - the first 10 sonnets

the pathless man

Erik Lindegren (1942)

shadowless the meandering path of errors
on earth the alien depths
gazed on by the sun’s ascetic eye
and the innate blindness of horizons


(in the hall of mirrors where not only Narcissus
is enthroned free from giddiness on his pillar of despair

eternity suckled with a grimace
the land of unlimited possibilities

in the hall of mirrors where a single infected sob
escaped the crossed rapiers of indifference

and transformed the air into promise and soil
that ran down all the city’s windows

in the hall of mirrors where perfection is punched in sheet metal
and carried like a prisoner in the standard breast

where the word commits harakiri in the gleam of explosions
and the trumpet tastes of crushed china and dying blood

in the hall of mirrors where one becomes the far too many
and yet would fall as dew in time’s grave)


(the eyebrow twitched on the soil-coloured shoulders
and breathed rime-frost crystals in the hall of mirrors:

mirrors and running water as smoke of eternity
as faith stacked on faith on misery’s removal load

for like a car-jack merely grazes its calling
rivers grind their heel through the earth of loss

and mirrors become running water and offer death
their silent truth with no misting of the glass

but the one who has lost his way on the water
no longer delights in the loss of life

for he knows that the dream can only shed its masks
to become inscrutable like a child

and that the veil is what we do not know otherwise
and that all we know is the veil in the hall of mirrors)


who is it still appeals to the wanderer with the wheel in his hand
to voices that rock on the water where no one has foundered

who is it scours water both morning and evening
and takes twilight’s gentle path to his cell

who meets his own gaze on the voyage round the universe
and bends his own back into a beggar’s bowl

for rain that refuses to come and patience
come like nighttime sheets in fresh-converted trees

who does not throw his sole truth aside
to find a greater and greener captivity

who believes that he can crush a mirror without blindness
who believes he at one time can both live and die

in the darkness organs and rattles glittered
from the one-eyed well questions and song are drawn


mirrors turn their backs and light raises dust
good fortune’s horse-shoe curls away under the poppy’s sleep

truth grows old and lays out its patience
while the landscape folds up its ruins

benediction calls out for its lost voice
and gropes blindly behind the closed eyelids of centuries

the ladder of extinction enjoys to the very last
the mild climate of complete oblivion

the deserted memory sinks through the floor
and spins a gaping hole in the sleeper’s ear

destruction sniffingly saws a body into equal parts
bitterly as a broken branch in november

but with a death-watch behind the polished forehead
the naked shaft of rage seizes me


the hand trembles from giddiness on the stranglers’ ladder
covetous tears rustle in the nightingale’s empty cage

already mourning itself claims several victims
even a railway accident stammers forgive me

a peeled eye burns: short-circuit and loneliness
and fate photograph yet another surprised corpse

fire devastates even the uninsured heart
and suffering’s guards flee towards a fund of belief

anonymous spikes dream themselves into reality
and rock themselves into thorns on the slope of reality

but a cry of pain rolls up a mountain
and throws itself from a precipice so as to crush itself

imposingly the flight of pain rests on the cloth of eagles
while the wind shuffles the cards of courteous faces


the mask fights to free itself from its confidant
and the marionette to come to rest

disease leaves its place under the microscope
tired of looking at contracted pupils

suffering opens rootlessly its whitewashed eye
only to be crushed by the children’s flying feet

but the fool talks with the thunder and the one prepared
for death plaits a wreath of barbed wire in his hair

and sees the heart sink heavy as a stone
to a bloody and strangely warming despair:

to rest under the earth with sighing trees in one’s mouth
to speak in one’s sleep with all the faithful deceived:

no it is not yet time to look into god’s eye
but this stone the wills’ iron-bar lever cannot dislodge


here in this silence that effaces the boundary
between the living dead and the deads’ living wish

where two halves unite to form a double blindness
so as to hear even better how the light falls

slowly, deviously, as if it knew what it wanted
when the night is imminent and the day is empty

and meaning leans out from its tower
with dread’s seal to be better kept

in the darkness of throats where the bodyguard’s lances
block all exits to the bliss of drowning

here in this silence that effaces the boundary
where light falls and fear grows grey

the storm of renewal claims the dry earth of the future
while blindness sneers through its glassless window


the tired tree cannot lift itself from the blood
and irresolution cannot raise its branches

false simplicity cannot speak the truth
and scourges itself in vain into a witness of blood

the precious stones tempt with the dried-up river-bed of oblivion
but the path to life passes through a different desert

where alone with the sun I recall the world
and comrade Orestes who cannot speak for sand

where alone with the woman I forget the sun
and its tired trees in the fiery cave

its scorched eyes that waken towards evening
when the desert freezes in spring’s mourning-band coat

when the invisible drama takes up its position in the wings
and in the silent desert a sea of humanity swells


but first a tower of famine must mercifully fall
and the distance light up the weakness of the fugitive:

his carved eyes with caves of smoke-blue coolness
that instruct the falling drops of fear

his dread of happiness the white endless hand
his hardness towards life his gentleness towards death

with the eternally budding horizons of innocence
his longing that braids with tongues of fire

that forest of eternity which absent-mindedly draws in the water
while the cloud furtively lowers its marble head

weathered to a grimace of surprising pain –
oh the moment of recognition how outer space plunges

chokingly black oh springs that whirl away and only
his helmet so still so radiantly blind


the black magnet of hatred has sucked our flight in
and suffering drains its cup and no longer begs

at the market we exchange our worn-out faces
forced to let illness run its course

in silence the play of our false strength is performed
ironically the searchlight is pointed down into our abyss

but the heart distils into an unreal light
that rocks our fear to immortal calm

and throws open all the doors we have been forced to lock
in the fearful choice that has maimed us ourselves

it is as if this earth and sky are ours
as if our limbs gleam with riches

as if the world has vanished without trace like a dream
and at long last rests safely within us

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